November 9, 2020

O. T. 33 (Nov 15th Sunday homily)

O T. XXXIII [A] (Nov 15) Sunday (Eight-minute homily in one page) 

Introduction: This penultimate Sunday of the liturgical year reminds us, not only of the end of the liturgical year, but also of the end of all things and of the preparations we need to make to reach Heaven. The main theme of the three readings is an invitation to live in such a way that we make the best use of the talents God has given us, so that at the hour of our death Our Lord will say: “Well done, my good and faithful servant!… Come and share the joy of your master” Matthew 25: 21). (+ a homily starter anecdote)

The Scripture readings summarized: The first reading suggests that we should be as diligent and industrious as a loyal and faithful wife, in the use of our God-given gifts and talents with “the fear of the Lord.” Unlike the one-talent man, she takes her gifts and “brings forth good, not evil”; she “reaches her hands to the poor and extends her arms to the needy,” and she is a portrait of responsible readiness. In today’s

Responsorial Psalm, Ps 128, the Psalmist echoes the concept of the blessedness of the faithful servant of the Lord. The Psalm affirms that the fear of the Lord is the key to human happiness and joy.

In the second reading, Paul advises us as “children of the Light” to “stay alert and sober,” living in such a way that we will be ready when Jesus does come, and will encourage and build each other up as we wait for the “Day of the Lord.”

Today’s Gospel asks us if we are using our talents and gifts primarily to serve God and doing everything, we can to carry out God’s will. The parable of the talents challenges us to do something positive, constructive and life-affirming with our talents here and now.

Life messages: 1) We need to trust God enough to make use of the gifts and abilities we have been given. We may be especially talented in teaching children or cooking meals or repairing homes or programming computers. So, we should ask ourselves how we are using our particular gifts in the service of our Christian community and the wider society.

2) We need to make use of our talents in our parish. In addition to our homes and families, the best place to do this is in our parish. This means that we should be always willing to share our abilities in creative worship in the Church and in various ministries of our parish, such as Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, Lector, Usher, Sunday school teacher, singer in the choir, volunteer and member of one or more parish organizations and community outreach programs.

3) We need to “trade” with our talent of Christian Faith: All of us in the Church today have received at least one talent namely, the gift of Faith. Our responsibility is not just to preserve and “keep” the Faith, but to work with it. We need to promote and add value to Faith by living it out. The way to preserve the Faith, or any other talent that God has given us, is to put it to work and help it bear fruit.

OT 33 [A] Prv 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; I Thes 5:1-6; Mt 25:14-30

Homily-starter Anecdotes: 1) Chance-taking adventurous voyagers. Columbus trusted his maps and calculations, considered his risks and sailed off to India – only to encounter the “new world.” Magellan based his charts and maps on the most current information then available, and boldly circumnavigated the globe. A few centuries later in their search for a Northwest Passage, Lewis and Clark set off, crossed the entire North American continent and explored the nation. All these explorers had at least one thing in common. They all based their momentous journeys on maps that were mostly inaccurate, hopelessly flawed or vastly mistaken. Yet each of these adventurers went ahead, accepted the risks, plunged into unknown territories, mapped them, and changed the world. It is precisely because of their risk-taking that the face of the planet was re-drawn and the dreams of future generations were re-shaped. Those without the vision, without the courage to take risks, are quick to label others as crazy, crackpots, fools, and failures. In the parable of the talents this week, Jesus gives a stern warning — discipleship does not promise complete safety. On the contrary, true disciples are called to take risks and venture beyond the known and the secure. . (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

2) Play it safe: There is an old story about two farmers visiting over a fence in early Spring. “Jake,” the first one said, “What are you going to plant this year, corn?” “Nope,” Jake replied, “scared of the corn borer.” “Well, what about potatoes?” his neighbor asked. “Nope, too much danger of potato bugs,” announced Jake. The neighbor pressed on, “Well, then, what are you going to plant?” Jake answered, “Nothing! I’m going to play it safe.” In today’s Gospel Jesus tells the story of a lazy servant, like Jake, who buried his talent instead of doing business with it. . (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

3) The man who did not bury his talent: Antonio Stradivari was born in Cremona, Italy, in 1644. Because Antonio’s voice was high and squeaky, he did not pass the audition for the Cremona Boys’ Choir. When he took violin lessons, the neighbors persuaded his parents to make him stop. Yet Antonio still wanted to make music. His friends made fun of him because his only talent was wood-carving. When Antonio was 22, he became an apprentice to a well-known violinmaker, Nicholas Amati.  Under his master’s training Antonio’s knack for carving grew, and his hobby became his craft. He started his own violin shop when he was 36. He worked patiently and faithfully. By the time he died at 93, he had built over 1,500 violins, each one bearing a label that read, “Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis Faciebat Anno……” (“Antonio Stradivarius of Cremona made in the year…”) They are the most sought-after violins in the world and sell for more than $100,000 each. Antonio couldn’t sing, or play, or preach, or teach, but he used the   ability he had, and his violins are still making beautiful music    today. Antonio is a challenge to people who have only a single talent and who try to bury the talent for fear of failure — like the lazy servant in Jesus’ parable. . (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

Introduction: This penultimate Sunday of the liturgical year reminds us, not only of the end of the liturgical year but also of the end of all things and of the preparations we need to make to reach Heaven. The main theme of the three readings is an invitation to live in such a way that we make the best use of the talents God has given us, so that at the hour of our death Our Lord will say: “Well done, my good and faithful servant! Come and share the joy of your master” Matthew 25:21). The first reading suggests that we should be as diligent and industrious as a loyal and faithful wife in the use of our God-given gifts, used with “the fear of [respect for] the Lord.” In today’s Responsorial Psalm, Ps 128, the Psalmist echoes the concept of the blessedness of the faithful servant of the Lord. The Psalm affirms that the fear of the Lord is the key to human happiness and joy. In the second reading, Paul advises us to “stay alert and sober,” encouraging and building each other up as we wait for the “Day of the Lord.” Today’s Gospel challenges us to ask the questions: “Am I using my talents and gifts primarily to serve God? Am I doing everything I can to carry out God’s will?” The parable of the talents challenges us to do something positive, constructive and life-affirming with our talents here and now.

First reading (Prv 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31), explained: The Book of Proverbs is the best place to find practical advice about life. This first reading describes a good and faithful woman –- a gracious wife and mother — who does all her household duties with generous efficiency, finding time to reach out a helping hand to the poor and the needy. Unlike the “wicked, lazy servant” in the Gospel, this faithful and loving wife works diligently to bring good to others and is judged praiseworthy for increasing the quality of life within and around her. Since she practices love for both God and neighbor it has pleased God to say: “Her value is far beyond pearls” (v 10). This reading suggests that we should be as diligent and industrious as a loyal, faithful wife in the use of our God-given gifts. Unlike the one-talent man, she receives her gifts from God and uses them to “brings forth good, not evil”(v 12); she “reaches her hands to the poor and extends her arms to the needy” (v 20). The author of Proverbs believes everyone should be creatively and lovingly active. Writing against a cultural background which stressed the exploits of men, the Sacred Author sees the “worthy wife” (v 10), as a dynamic, ingenious individual. Hence, the ideal Old Testament woman is no empty-headed sex object but a model held up for imitation by women and for respect and honor by their husbands., fathers, and sons.

Second Reading, (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6) explained: When the Thessalonians first accepted the Christian Faith, they thought that their imitation of Jesus’ death and Resurrection would be a short-term experience. Everyone, including Paul, was certain that Jesus’ Second Coming was very near. As time went on without that Coming, the Thessalonian Church seethed with rumors about its exact date. People were more concerned with “times and seasons” of Christ’s second coming than with living their Faith. Paul assures his readers that it’s stupid to worry about the “day of the Lord(v 2). Instead of expecting an imminent Parousia, Christians should always “stay alert and sober,” (v 6), doing their daily duties faithfully. “We belong neither to darkness nor to night; therefore, let us not be asleep like the rest, but awake and sober!” (vv 5-6). Paul means that our wholehearted dedication to the responsibilities of Christian living will earn for us the Lord’s praise at the Final Judgment. Paul reminds us that the children of light are destined, not for wrath, but for salvation when the Lord comes. He warns us that the Day of the Lord will come “like a thief in the night” (v 4), when we least expect it.  Thus, we should keep awake and be sober, encouraging and building each other up as we wait for the “Day of the Lord.” Only those who live each day to the fullest will be ready when Jesus’ special Day arrives.

Gospel exegesis: The context: The parable is set in the last of Jesus’ five great discourses — this one   focusing on Jesus’ eschatological teaching. The three parables in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew (The Wise and Foolish Virgins, The Talents, The Last Judgment) are about the end times, the end of the world, and the end (intent, purpose, and upshot), of our lives. Matthew’s account provided good advice to the early Christian community as to how they were to behave in the period following Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension while they awaited His imminent second coming. Whatever had been given to them — money, talent, opportunity — was meant to bear fruit for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. The same is true for all of us. Perhaps, Jesus was condemning the Jewish religious authorities. They were like the third servant, so carefully bent on preserving in its purity the tradition with which they had been entrusted that they lost their openness for Christian community the parable was allegorized. The Master was equated with Christ, his departure with the Ascension, and his delayed return with the delay of the Parousia or the “second coming.”

The story: A very rich Master,about to set off on a journey, entrusted very large sums of money (talents) to three of his servant-slaves, each according to his personal ability:  five, two, and one. A talent was worth between five and six thousand denarii — or about 15 years’ wages for a simple day laborer.  Even one talent could be worth more than a laborer would earn in a lifetime. The rich Master freely bestowed the money upon all three servant-slaves as a fiduciary entrustment, with the responsibility of investing it. He was giving each of the servant-slaves a chance for unsupervised action. The amounts were enormous to these slaves who, of themselves, had nothing and earned nothing.  Through skillful trading and investing, the slave with the five talents, trusting in the righteousness of his Master, managed to make five more — doubling his Master’s money. The servant-slave with the two talents did the same.  The third slave, however, buried his talent in the ground.  He did not trust in the Master’s loving Righteousness and so was afraid to take the risk, afraid of the consequences of losing all the money, and afraid of the Master’s reaction if he did.  On the day of accounting, the Master rewarded the two clever and trusting servant-slaves (“Come, share your master’s joy” vv 21, 23), but punished the third untrusting slave whom he called “wicked and slothful” (v. 26). He took the third servant-slave’s talent and gave it to the first servant-slave. Clearly the Master did not want security — but initiative. He exposed the third slave’s explanation as a mere excuse for irresponsibility and laziness. Even the most timid person could at least have invested the one talent with bankers and gained the interest from it, the master pointed out (v 27).

The four lessons taught by Jesus through the parable: 1) God gives each person different gifts for his or her intended uses. Everything is gift, and everything is meant to be given back to the Master in in the form of loving service to Him in our brothers and sisters. We are only asked to make full use of what we have been uniquely given and to use our talents for the benefit of the community as a whole. The human family is charged with preserving the beauty, diversity and integrity of nature as well as fostering its productivity. (2) The better our work the greater our responsibility. God gives more responsibilities to those who make the best use of their God-given talents. (3) The lazy and the unproductive will be punished. Even the person with only one talent has something to offer to others. If he fails to do some positive good work, he will lose what he has. If he trusts the Lord, and so tries to use well the gifts God has given him, but fails, he will meet the Master’s compassion and forgiveness. (4) God blesses generous sharers and punishes selfish hoarders. Those who share generously the gifts they have been given are likely to find themselves constantly and immeasurably enriched, while those who jealously and selfishly preserve, out of fear, what they have been given, will lose it. In short, the parable outlines the result of the abundant, grace-filled stewardship of God’s resources. A person who does not refuse a gift from the Lord, receives it, and consequently has more. The trustworthiness of the profitable servants ensures their share in the “joy of the Lord,” because the wealth of life and talent given them has been invested to bear fruit in labors of faith, hope, and charity.

The allegorical interpretation of the parable. This parable has certain allegorical elements with some passages clearly involving allegory. For example, the Master going on a journey represents Jesus. His going on a journey represents Jesus’ Ascension. The slaves represent Christians who are awaiting the Second Coming. The talents represent the blessings (financial, social, intellectual, athletic, musical, and so on), which God has bestowed on each of us. The Master’s return represents Jesus’ Second Coming. The Master’s assessment of the faithfulness of the slaves represents Jesus’ judgment of us at our own death, and on Judgment Day. Using these allegorical elements, this parable tells us that God will hold us accountable for what we have done—and for what we have failed to do — with His gifts, and opportunities He has given to us so that we may use them well. In the parable, Jesus is portraying God as a rich Master Who has entrusted His entire property (i.e. the world) to His servant-slaves (i.e. us), with the assumption that we will be responsible, prudent and thoughtful stewards of these riches, until the day when we are called to give an account of our stewardship. It is a reminder that we are accountable to God for the ways in which we have used (or abused), the gifts He has left in our care, so that we may use them to produce as much fruit as is possible. We are to keep in mind always, that the gifts and their fruits are not ours but God’s, and that God will one day demand a reckoning of all we have done with them. Our reward will be in proportion to the degree to which we have used our gifts to their fullest advantage by taking the risks involved in investing those riches wisely.(Adapted from the New American Bible notes)

The challenge given by the parable: Take the risk for Christ. Let us remember that we are not called simply to “believe” that Jesus is Lord and Savior Instead, we are also called to carry on Jesus’ mission of love and forgiveness, using the physical and spiritual gifts we have received from God to make that happen. God, Who risked everything in the Incarnation of His only-begotten Son as Jesus, the Christ, for the sake of our salvation, expects us to do more than simply cling to safety. Here, Jesus is encouraging us who follow Him not to be afraid but, trusting in His help, to accept the risks involved with using their talents for the glory of God and for the salvation of our neighbors. Overwhelmed by the fear of being eternally condemned to Hell, many of us identify ourselves with the servant-slave who quickly buried the talent he received from his Master. Our concern with our eternal salvation can be so intense that we concentrate only on the possibility of loss and become afraid to risk extending love to others in our spiritual life. We presume that forming relationships is always risky, and showing love to another might mean having to change our actions to meet the needs of that other. There’s always a danger we might “do the wrong thing” and lose the grace we have. The parable teaches us that a “take-no-chances” policy is not Christian.

The object lesson: Our lame excuses invite punishment: The third servant decided to avoid risk-taking and showed too much caution with his talent.. His excuse was that, after all, he had not been given explicit orders about how to do his investing. Besides, any type of business was risky, and the Master might hold him accountable for any loss. He probably knew the long-standing rabbinic teaching that anyone who buries money that has been put into his care is no longer liable for its safety. Through this description of a lazy servant, Jesus teaches us that that there is no “safe” position in life. Christian living is strenuous business involving occasional risk-taking. God expects us to use our every talent for personal growth, and for bearing witness to the Goodness of God to all whom we encounter. As Pope St. John XXIII said, “We were not put on earth to guard a museum, but to produce new spiritual wealth from the talents God has placed under our stewardship. Traditionalists who fear the gift of the Second Vatican Council and a changing Church, and want to keep their treasure intact through a return to outdated rituals and arcane theology, are represented by the lazy servant. “While the parable of the wise and foolish virgins shows that ‘good intentions are not enough,’ and the last judgment story reminds us to care for the poor and needy, this parable of the talents describes the “terrible punishments which lie in store for those who do not produce new wealth from the talents God has placed in their stewardship.” (Letter by the Lay Commission on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy, 1984, p. 4).

Life messages: 1) We need to trust God enough to make use of the gifts and abilities we have been given. Some of us are, clearly, very gifted with valuable abilities, but there is no one, absolutely no one, who can say he has been gifted with nothing. We may be especially talented in teaching children, or cooking meals, or repairing homes, or programming computers. So we should ask ourselves how we are using our particular gifts in the service of our Christian community and the wider society. Why not follow the example of people who use their God-given talents the best way possible, like, for instance, nursing assistants who take great pride in keeping their patients clean and comfortable, or carpenters who gain enormous satisfaction from building quality homes, or teachers who find joy in the discoveries of the classroom, or attorneys who keep the goal of justice at the very center of their practices?

2) We need to make use of our talents in our parish. God calls us to live in a world of abundance by taking risks and being generous. In addition to our homes and families, the best place to do this is in our parish. This means that we should be always willing to share our abilities in creative worship in the Church and innovative educational events in the Sunday school.   We can fulfill the needs we will find right in our parish: feeding the hungry, visiting the sick or the elderly, housing the homeless, and welcoming strangers in our midst. We need to make the bold assumption that there’s going to be a demand for every one of our talents in our parish community. We should step out, with confidence, believing that every God-given gift we have is going to be exceedingly useful and fruitful!

3) We need to “trade” with our talent of Christian Faith: All of us in the Church today have received at least one talent. We have received the gift of Faith. Our responsibility as men and women of Faith is not just to preserve and “keep” the Faith. We need to work with it. We need to offer it to the men and women of our times. Unless we do this, we stand in danger of losing the Faith just as the third servant lost his talent. The way to preserve the Faith, or any other talent that God has given us, is to put it to work and help it bear fruit.

JOKES OF THE WEEK: (1) How to stay safe without taking risk: 1.  Avoid riding in automobiles because they are responsible for 20% of all fatal accidents. 2.  Do not stay home because 17% of all accidents occur in the home. 3.  Avoid walking on streets or sidewalks because 14% of all accidents occur to pedestrians. 4.  Avoid traveling by air, rail, or water because 16% of all accidents     involve these forms of transportation. 5.  Of the remaining 33%, 32% of all deaths occur in Hospitals.  So, above     all else, avoid hospitals.     But you will be pleased to learn, only .001% of all deaths occur in worship services in Church, and these are usually related to previous physical disorders.  Therefore, logic tells us that the safest place for you to be at any given point in time is at Church! And Bible study is safe too.  The percentage of deaths during Bible study is even smaller.  So for SAFETY’S sake: Attend Church, and read your Bible.  IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE!

(2)   Have you heard the old parachute joke about the guy who was having trouble trusting? His friend said, “I know the best solution for your problem. A parachute jump will fix your problem of trust and lack of confidence.” So, they took this guy up for a jump. But just before he was to jump he got very nervous. His friend assured him, “It’s very easy. You jump out, and then pull the rip cord. If for some reason it doesn’t work, you pull the second cord, which is a back-up – guaranteed absolutely to work! Trust me! Then you just enjoy your trip down and a car will be waiting for you and will drive you back to the airport.” So, the guy jumped out of the plane. He pulled the rip cord and nothing happened. “Oh, no!” he thought. “I’ll pull the back-up cord.” He did. Nothing happened. And the guy said to himself, “Oh, no! And I bet the car won’t be there either”

Useful Websites:

Fr. Don’s new collection of video homilies & blogs: https://lectiotube.com/

1) Our Sunday Visitor: http://www.osv.com

2) Resources on tithing @ stewardship: http://www.kluth.org/1quotes.htm

3) Detect Hoax Emails: http://www.geocities.com/tbchambers/vaccine.htm

4) Sr. Ursuline using her musical talent; https://youtu.be/TpaQYSd75Ak

5) Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066

27-Additional anecdotes:

1) Using one’s talents: Booker T. Washington started life as a black American slave. At the age of sixteen, he walked almost five hundred miles from his slave home to Hampton Institute in Virginia. When he got there, he was told that classes were already filled. But that didn’t stop him. He took a job at the school doing menial work: sweeping floors, making beds, and doing anything they wanted, just so he could be around the environment of learning. He did these jobs so well that the faculty found room for him as a student. He worked his way up at the school, became a famous teacher, the first black faculty member at Hampton Institute. He became a writer and the author of Up From Slavery. He was a popular public speaker. And he eventually founded Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where he brought George Washington Carver to teach and do all his research which changed and improved farming techniques. Booker T. Washington used his God-given talents, and we all gained from them. . (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

2) Buried talent: Niccolò Paganini (1782 –1840) was an Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer. He was one of the most celebrated violin vituosi of his time, and left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique. His Caprice No. 24 in A minor, Op. 1, is among the best known of his compositions, and has served as an inspiration for many prominent composers. But he willed his violin to the city of his birth, Geno, Italy, with the condition that the violin never again be played. What a pity! The absence of use and handling resulted in the decay of the wood used in the instrument. A violin that is constantly used can be preserved and in some cases even grow richer in tone for hundreds of years, Paginini’s wish just resulted in the crumbling of his precious violin in its case. . (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

3) “If only I had her looks.” There is a story of the thirty-eight-year-old scrubwoman who would go to the movies and sigh, “If only I had her looks.” She would listen to a singer and moan, “If only I had her voice.” Then one day someone gave her a copy of the book, The Magic of Believing. She stopped comparing herself with actresses and singers. She stopped crying about what she didn’t have and started concentrating on what she did have. She took inventory of herself and remembered that in high school she had had a reputation for being the funniest girl around. She began to turn her liabilities into assets. When she was at the top of her career, Phyllis Diller made over $1 million a year. In the 1960’s that was a great deal of money. She wasn’t good-looking and she had a scratchy voice, but she could make people laugh. Well, maybe God is saying something like that to us through today’s parable of the talents. Maybe when we complain that we wish that we had more, if only we were like someone other than ourselves, if only… He says to us: “Use the gifts I have given you!” Stop crying about what you do not have and start concentrating on what you do have. Use the gifts that God has given you. . (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

4) “Where is the piccolo?” Sir Michael Costa, the celebrated conductor of the 19th century, was holding a rehearsal. As the mighty chorus rang out accompanied by scores of instruments, the musician playing the piccolo –a little pint-sized flute–thinking perhaps that his contribution would not be missed amid so much music, stopped playing. Suddenly, the great leader stopped and cried out, “Where is the piccolo?” The sound of that one small instrument was necessary to the harmony, and the Master Conductor missed it when it dropped out. The point? To the Conductor there are no insignificant instruments in an orchestra. Sometimes the smallest and seemingly least important one can make the greatest contribution and even if it doesn’t seem to make that big a difference. Like the piccolo player in Sir Michael’s orchestra, we often (in our own sovereignty!) decide that our contribution is not significant. But the Conductor immediately notices. From our perspective, our contribution may be small, but from His, it is crucial. For all piccolos who won’t play, or at least aren’t playing, Jesus has something to say: “Use the gifts that God has given you.” . (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

5) “Do you want a chance to change the world?”: Steven Jobs is the man who founded the enormously successful company called Apple Computer. Jobs decided that Mr. John Sculley was the man he needed to help him fulfill his dream of building a completely different kind of computer company, one which would make computers available to every person in the world. However, Mr. Sculley was comfortably and safely entrenched as president of the Pepsico Corporation, the makers of the soft drink Pepsi-Cola. In this position, John Sculley had obtained everything that a man could want: power, prestige, public recognition, an enormous salary and a secure future. The thought of a career change requiring a move to the West Coast frightened him. He was concerned about losing pensions and deferred compensation and the adjustment to living in California, in other words, “the pragmatic stuff that preoccupies the middle-aged.” He says, “I was overly concerned with what would happen next week and the week after next.” John Sculley knew that he was safe and happy at Pepsico. But he also knew that he had grown to dislike the competitive nature of the business. He also knew how bored he was. Steven Jobs at Apple Computer sensed this. And so, he finally confronted his new friend with this pointed question. He said to John, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?” That question penetrated deep into the heart and mind of John Sculley. It changed the course of his life. He therefore went to Apple Computer and helped it to grow into one of the most successful corporations in the world. Mr. Sculley’s life was changed because he took the risk and decided to invest in himself and others, and to grow. [John Sculley, Odyssey (New York: Harper & Row, 1987), p. 90.] (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

6) Talents- use them or lose them: There was an American businessman by the name of Wilson. He was tired of the Great Depression, rising taxes, and increasing crime, and in 1940 he sold his home and business and moved to an island in the South Pacific to get away from it all. Balmy and ringed with beautiful beaches, it was a paradise. Sounds like the perfect setting doesn’t it. You know the name of the island? Iwo Jima. For those too young to recall, Iwo Jima, was an island where the fiercest fighting between American forces and the Japanese took place in the Second World War. You have to use your talent or lose it. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

7) “What we are about is faithfulness.” Back in the 1940’s Clarence Jordon founded a farm in Americus, Georgia, and called it Koinonia [Christian Fellowship, Communion with God and with Fellow-Christians] Farm. Koinonia was a community of poor whites and blacks who cooperated in earning a living. The integrated status of the community bothered many local citizens. They tried everything possible to wreck Koinonia. They boycotted its farm products, and slashed the workers’ tires when they came to town. Finally, in 1954, the Ku Klux Klan decided to get rid of Koinonia Farms. One night they came and burned every building except Dr. Jordon’s home. They chased off all of the families except for the Jordons and one black family. The next day a local newspaper reporter came to the farm to see what remained. The rubble was still smoldering. But Clarence Jordon was busy planting and hoeing. With a haughty spirit, the reporter said to Dr. Jordon, “Well, you got two of those Ph.D. s and you’ve put fourteen years into this farm, and there’s nothing left to show for it. Just how successful do you think you’ve been?” Clarence stopped hoeing, turned toward the reporter with his penetrating eyes, and said quietly but firmly, “Sir, I don’t think you understand us Christians. What we are about is not success; what we are about is faithfulness.” In order to be faithful, we must be willing to take risks for that One who dared to march into the very jaws of Hell for us. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

8) Earl Fitz was a doer. According to a recent article in Christianity Today, Fitz is 81 years young and he has been the mayor of Iowa Falls, Iowa four times. But that’s the easy part. In Earl’s mid-fifties he left his teaching job and began a new career, selling Bibles. Earl bought 10,000 Bibles from a publisher getting out of Bible sales and sold them all. Today, Earl is the founder and president of Riverside Book and Bible House, which sold $33 million worth of books last year. He’s succeeded with a lot of hard work and a commitment to get Bibles into the homes of America. Earl began a new career when most are preparing for retirement. He wasn’t ready to buy into that classic American line, “I’ve done my time, I owe myself some easy livin’.” And he’s going strong nearly thirty years later [Christianity Today (August 17, 1987), p. 14ff.] I believe Jesus loves the Earl Fitzes of this world. That is the lesson of the parable of the talents. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

9) LVA: result of using one’s talents: A lady by the name of Ruth Colvin was shocked at her hometown’s illiteracy rate. So, she decided that God would have her do something about it. “I felt strongly motivated by the Parable of the Talents,” she says. “We’re responsible for making good use of the knowledge we’re given.” So Ruth, a teacher, set up a makeshift office in her suburban basement, filing important matters in an old refrigerator, and launched Literacy Volunteers of America in 1962. Today, LVA has helped 90,000 people learn to read thanks to a grandmotherly woman who saw a need and put her talents to work meeting it. [Today’s Christian Woman (January/February 1987), p. 23.] Life is a gift. We live in a wonderful world of opportunity. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

10) Use the gift of the vote: One voter in each precinct in the United States can determine the next President of the United States. In 1948 just one additional vote in each precinct would have elected Thomas Dewey as President. In 1960 one vote in each precinct in Illinois would have elected Richard Nixon as President. Thomas Jefferson was elected President by one vote in the Electoral College. So was John Quincy Adams. Rutherford B. Hays was elected President by one vote. One vote gave Statehood to California, Idaho, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. The Draft Act of World War II passed the House by one vote. Your one vote is important, and a spiritual gift is just like a vote. You either use it or you lose it. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

11) One-note opera: Charles L. Allen once told about a composer named Gioachino Rossini who would go out to some small village in Italy one which could not afford an opera and he would write an opera which the people of that village could perform. One summer, he auditioned all of the talent in this small village, and the only woman who could possibly be a leading lady was limited to only one good note. It was a middle B-flat. Rossini was not discouraged; he went right ahead and wrote the opera in which the leading lady had only that one note to sing. But, he surrounded that middle B-flat with such beautiful harmony that when she sang her one note, it was like an angel from heaven. That is what happens when we offer our meager gifts to God. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

12) “Life is just a tiny little minute, / But eternity is in it.” : Herman Cain, CEO and president of Godfather’s Pizza, Incorporated, is an African-American man who was raised in poverty. He credits his hard-working father for his success in life. Throughout Herman’s life, his father worked three or four jobs at a time in order to support his family. In addition to his father, Herman Cain also found inspiration from Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, a former president of Morehouse College. Dr. Mays taught Herman a poem that has guided him through the ups and downs of life. It is as follows:

“Life is just a minute/ Only sixty seconds in it,

Forced upon you, can’t refuse it./ Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it,

But it’s up to you to use it./ You must suffer if you lose it,

Give an account if you abuse it,

Just a tiny little minute,/ But eternity is in it.” (2)

This catchy little poem perfectly captures our first point for today. According to Jesus, parable of the kingdom, we will be held accountable for our “stewardship” of our lives. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

13) “But the recruiting office is on the other side of the street!” The French Army was having a campaign to recruit paratroopers. On one of the busiest streets in Paris they placed their poster. It read like this: “Young Men! Join the parachutist forces of France. It is more dangerous to cross this street than to jump with a parachute.” The poster was a great success until someone scribbled this message at the bottom of the poster: “I would gladly join, but the recruiting office is on the other side of the street!” [Eric W. Johnson, A Treasury of Humor, (New York: Ivy Books, 1994), p. 187.] I doubt that many potential parachutists were deterred by having to cross the street, but there are also many people who would never parachute no matter how safe it was. The very idea turns their knees to jelly. They don’t want to take any risk in life just like the lazy servant in Jesus’ parable. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

14) “Do you like the house?” J. Wallace Hamilton in his book What About Tomorrow? tells the story of a wealthy builder. He called in his top assistant manager and said, “I am going away for a while. While I am gone, I want you to oversee the building of my home. I am going to be retiring in a few years, I have these wonderful plans, and excellent parcels of land by the lake, and I want you to oversee the building of our home.” As he left on his journey, the assistant said to himself, “He lives in luxury and has done very little for me. When he retires, what will I have?” So the assistant used every opportunity to feather his own nest. He hired an immoral builder, he used inferior products, he hired inferior workmen and when the house was completed, it looked fine on the outside, but its deficiencies in workmanship and material would soon show as the test of time came. It was not a job “well done.” When the wealthy builder came back, he said, “Do you like the house?” The assistant manager replied, “Yes, I do.” The wealthy builder then asked, “Is this house beautiful?” “It certainly is,” the assistant manager replied. “Great,” said the wealthy builder, “because it is my gift to you. The house is yours.” Each of us lives in the house we are building each day. Where are you in this story tonight? (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

15) “If you are lonely or have a problem call me.” Tony Campolo told of meeting a woman who is confined to a wheelchair. Although Nancy had a handicapping condition, she developed a unique ministry to people who are lonely and hurting. Nancy ran ads in the personals section of the newspaper that read: “If you are lonely, or have a problem, call me. I am in a wheelchair and seldom get out. We can share our problems with each other. Just call. I’d love to talk.” From that simple ad, the results were truly amazing. Nancy claims that she receives at least thirty calls each week from persons who need someone to talk to and listen to their pain. Nancy spends most of her day comforting and counseling people. She has become someone to lean on, for hundreds of people with problems. Campolo asked her how she became handicapped. Nancy’s answer surprised, even shocked him. “By trying to commit suicide,” she said. Nancy went on to explain, “I was living alone. I had no friends. I hated my job, and I was constantly depressed.” Nancy decided to jump from the window of her apartment “to end it all. But instead of being killed, she ended up in the hospital paralyzed from the waist down. While she was in the hospital, Nancy said, “Jesus appeared to me and told me that I’d had a healthy body and a crippled soul but from then on I would have a crippled body and a healthy soul. I gave my life to Christ right there and then,” she said. “When I got out of the hospital, I tried to think of how a woman like me in a wheelchair could do some good, and I came up with the idea of putting the ad in the newspaper.” [Wake Up America! Tony Campolo (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991), pp. 87-88.] Nancy does not have some of the opportunities you and I have. But she is making maximum use of the opportunities she has. She is among the blessed of this world. Today’s Gospel challenges us to show gratitude to God by making use of the talents which God has given to us. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

16) There are actually seven forms of intelligence: There is a psychologist at Harvard named Howard Gardner who is trying to revolutionize the study of intelligence. He says we have been studying I.Q. all wrong. On our intelligence tests we only measure one or two forms of intelligence. Gardner says that there are actually seven forms of intelligence. Some people are gifted with linguistic intelligence, he says. These are our writers and poets. Others have what he calls logical/mathematical intelligence. They make good accountants and scientists. Some people are gifted spatially. These are our artists and architects. Some are gifted kinesthetically. Their bodies are unusually graceful and coordinated. These are our athletes and dancers. Others are gifted interpersonally. They know instinctively how to get along well with the people around them. These are our sales persons, counselors, teachers. Some are gifted in their ability to look within. These are our philosophers “our wise people.” Some are gifted musically. Here is the important point. Gardner claims that everyone he has ever tested has scored high on at least one of these seven forms of intelligence. All of us are gifted in our own way. Many of us are smarter than we think we are. Don’t you wish that someone had told you that a long time ago? Do tell your children, please. Many of them will go through life thinking they are dumb because their form of intelligence is not valued in school. All of us are gifted. All of us have what we need to succeed. God has created us differently so that different tasks will get done in this world. But all of us have a place where we fit in. All of us have what we need to succeed. WE ALL HAVE WHAT WE NEED TO SUCCEED. God has given us all we need! The sad thing is that we do not appreciate the gifts we have. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

17) Give it your best shot! Tom Dempsey was born without a right hand and with only half a right foot. Tom went to school and played football. He even played on a junior college team in California. In time he began to place kick for the team. He got so good that eventually he was signed by the New Orleans Saints. On November 8, 1970, the Saints were trailing Detroit 17-16 with two seconds to go. They had the ball on the Detroit 45-yard line. New Orleans coach J. D. Roberts tapped Tom on the shoulder and said, “Go out there and give it your best shot!” The holder set the ball down eight yards behind the line of scrimmage, instead of seven, to give Dempsey a split second more time to get the ball off. This put the ball 63 yards from the uprights. The rest of the story is history. Tom’s half a right foot made perfect contact. Tom later said in Newsweek Magazine: “I couldn’t follow the ball that far. But I saw the official’s arms go up, and I can’t describe how great I felt.” The Saints won the game 19-17, and Dempsey shattered the NFL field goal record by seven yards. — What does the story have to do with today’s gospel? Tom Dempsey had very few, if any, talents for playing football. Yet he used the very few talents he had to accomplish a great deal. He not only played pro football; he set a pro football record that still stands.
(Mark Link in Sunday Homilies’ quoted by Fr. Botelho)

(Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

18) Sharing the best you have: Mother Theresa of Calcutta was summoned to Court on the charges of converting children to the Catholic faith. When she stood in the dock, the judge asked her if the charges were true. She asked for a baby to be given to her. She held the baby in her arms and said, “This child I picked up from the dust bin; I don’t know to what religion this child belongs or what language it speaks… I give this child my love, my time, my care, my food… but the best thing that I have in my life is the faith in Jesus Christ. Can’t I give this child the best I have in my life?” The case was dismissed in favour of Mother Theresa. (John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

19) Wasted talent: I don’t believe there is any such thing as a born footballer, or writer, or painter. But Paul came very close to being an exception. He was a star footballer. Of course, he had to work at it. But everybody agreed that he was a natural. He knew he was better than any of the kids around him. It came as no surprise when at fifteen he was snapped up by a top professional club. He didn’t have long to wait for his big chance. He had only just celebrated his sixteenth birthday when he found himself selected for the first team. He made an immediate impact. Almost overnight he shot from obscurity to fame.  From there on it was one success after another. Within two years he was the club’s leading scorer. By now he was also playing for his country. Everywhere football was talked about his name was mentioned. To the fans he was a hero. To the media he was celebrity. He reveled in his success. A few years ago, he had been a poor kid playing in the back streets of a provincial town. Now he was rich and famous. He married a beautiful model, drove a Mercedes, and was the envy of every schoolboy who played football. However, things soon started to go wrong. There were rumors that he was drinking heavily. The rumors proved to be well-founded. His football began to suffer. His personal life began disintegrating. His wife suddenly left him, claiming that he was selfish and immature. Sadly, Paul’s glittering career came to a premature end. He was remembered as much for the manner in which he squandered a rare talent as for what he achieved with it. It is dangerous when a talent springs up overnight. Far better that it should grow up quietly and almost unnoticed, like a seed that grows into a tree. When a talent grows up like that, a kind of wholeness results. (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

20) Staying Awake: In his autobiography, Report to Greco, Nikos Kazantzakis recounts a conversation he once had with an old monk. Kazantzakis, a young man at the time, was visiting a monastery and was very taken by a famed ascetic, Father Makarios, who lived there. But a series of visits with the old monk left him with some ambivalent feelings as well. The monk’s austere lifestyle stirred a certain religious romanticism in Kazantzakis, but it repelled him too; he wanted the romanticism, but in a more-palatable way. Here’s their conversation as Kazantzakis records it: “Yours is a hard life, Father. I too want to be saved. Is there no other way?” “More agreeable?” asked the ascetic, smiling compassionately. “More human, Father.” “One, only one.” “What is that?” “Ascent. To climb a series of steps. From the full stomach to hunger, from the slaked throat to thirst, from joy to suffering. God sits at the summit of hunger, thirst, and suffering; the devil sits at the summit of the comfortable life. Choose.” “I am still young. The world is nice. I have time to choose.” Reaching out, the old monk touched my knee and said: “Wake up, my child. Wake up before death wakes you up.” I shuddered and said: “I am still young.” “Death loves the young,” the old man replied. “The inferno loves the young. Life is like a lighted candle, easily extinguished. Take care—wake up! Wake up! Wake up, before death wakes you up!”– In a less dramatic expression that’s a virtual leitmotif in the Gospels. Jesus is always telling us to wake up, to stay awake, to be vigilant, to be more alert to a deeper reality. What’s meant by that? How are we asleep to depth? How are we to wake up and stay awake? (Fr. Ron Roklster, Center for Liturgy). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

21) “That was the happiest moment of my life.” : It has been said that our true birthplace is the place in which we awaken to our gifts and talents. Often it takes an outsider to recognize the talents. Just as the sun helps to bring to birth the fragrant flowers that lie hidden in the soil of the fields, so there are people who find their fulfillment in helping to unfold the talents God has deposited in others. The Russian writer, Fydor Dostoevsky, was only 20 when he wrote his first book, entitled, Poor Folk. The foremost critic of the day was a man by the name of Belinksy. When Belinsky read the manuscript of the young Dostoevsky he said: “You have a great gift. Take good care of this gift and you will become a great writer.”  Dostoevsky was intoxicated by the words of the famous critic. Many years later he wrote, “That was the happiest moment of my life.” The recognition of Belinsky confirmed him in his belief of his own talent. It did more. It launched him on his way. He spent the rest of his life expressing himself through his writing. One of our greatest needs is to express ourselves. Unless we express ourselves, we cannot realize or fulfill ourselves. Sadly, a lot of talent goes unexpressed. It is in living that we discover our talent. Every talent has to be discovered. A lot of discipline, patience, and hard work are required if a talent is to bear full fruit. We see this in the first two servants in Jesus‘ story. We see the opposite of it in the case of the third servant. It wasn’t the harshness of the master that prevented him from using his talent, nor was it lack opportunity, He himself was to blame. We can’t take credit for our talent. Life is God’s gift to us. What we do with our life is our gift to God. (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

22) “Today you have proved to me that there is a God in heaven!:” The legendary American violinist, Yehudi Menuhin, was but seven when he performed Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in public. Aged ten, his violin recital at London’s Royal Albert Hall was so phenomenal that Albert Einstein who heard him reportedly whispered to the child prodigy, “Today you have proved to me that there is a God in Heaven!” Indeed, when one experiences talent developed in so short a time, one gets a glimpse of God, a foretaste of Heaven. Today’s readings suggest that God wants us to use our talents and treasures before time runs out. (Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

23) In 1644, Antonio Stradivari was born in Cremona, Italy. He had a very high and squeaky voice. Though he loved music and wanted to be a musician, he could not take part in a choir. His friends made fun of him because the talent he had was wood-carving. When Antonio was 22, he became an apprentice to a well-known violin maker Nicholas Amati. Under his master’s training, Antonio’s knack for carving grew, and his hobby became his craft. He started his own violin shop when he was 36. He worked patiently and faithfully. By the time he died at 93, he had built over 1,500 violins, and today, they are the most sought after and expensive violins in the world. He was not a singer, music player or teacher of music yet he used his ability to make beautiful music. (Elias Dias in Divine Stories for Families.) (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

24) “Michelangelo, talent is cheap; dedication is costly!” Bertoldo de Giovanni is a name even the most enthusiastic lover of art is unlikely to recognize. He was the pupil of Donatello, the greatest sculptor of his time, and he was the teacher of Michelangelo, the greatest sculptor of all time. Michelangelo was only 14 years old when he came to Bertoldo, but it was already obvious that he was enormously gifted. Bertoldo was wise enough to realize that gifted people are often tempted to coast rather than to grow, and therefore he kept trying to pressure his young prodigy to work seriously at his art. One day he came into the studio to find Michelangelo toying with a piece of sculpture far beneath his abilities. Bertoldo grabbed a hammer, stomped across the room, and smashed the work into tiny pieces, shouting this unforgettable message, “Michelangelo, talent is cheap; dedication is costly!” (Gary Inrig, A Call to Excellence). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

25) “America’s Got Talent” is one of a dozen or more copy-cat “spin-offs” from the grand-daddy original “discover-unknown-talent” show “American Idol,” a franchise we copied from Great Britain’s “Pop Idol” franchise. This genre of television that includes “The Voice,” “X-Factor” and “America’s Got Talent,” focus on finding that rare pearl of stardom embedded amidst the grit and gravel of everyday gifts. Ferreting out someone’s ability to excel at something, identifying an individual’s unique “talent,” has its roots in this week’s Gospel text. In fact, you might call our text the original “talent contest.” In the first century a “talent” was actually a measure of weight for gold, silver and copper. We do know it was not a specific value of currency or wealth. We do not know exactly what the weight was that a “talent” measured. We do know it was recognized as the largest weight in normal everyday use. One “talent,” then, was a considerable amount, especially when it expressed the weight of such valuable commodities as gold and silver and copper. In this week’s Gospel parable these weighty “talents” are distributed by a Master to his some of his slave-servants in varying amounts. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

26) Caught Off-Guard: In 79 AD, the volcano Vesuvius, which rises just off the Bay of Naples, Italy, erupted violently, totally destroying Pompeii, a city of 20,000 people. Much of the city was excavated in the nineteenth century, but archeologists are still uncovering certain neighborhoods. Sometimes the volcanic ash simply buried victims alive. Their bones have long since turned to dust, but the ash in many cases formed a firm mold around them at the moment of death; and by filling the mold with plaster, the excavators can obtain perfect images of those who died in the anguish of the disaster. In 1949, the archeologists reproduced a startling cast of one of the Pompeian victims. He lay face down as if death had taken him completely unawares. In one hand was a small crowbar. In the other, clasped tight in his fist, were several gold coins. To all appearances he was a thief who had taken advantage of the confusion of others to break into a building and rob the owner. The gold had done him little good. “… You are not in the dark, brothers, that the day should catch you off guard, like a thief.” (1 Thessalonians, 5:4. (Today’s second reading). (Father Robert F. McNamara). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

27) Trading with God-given talents: Some years ago, a Filipino girl who studied in the United States of America (USA) made big news because of her incredible intellectual prowess. Maricel Aragon-Yicks, a relative of the late Philippines President, Manuel Quezon, finished her grade school in two years. At eight, she graduated from high school and at eleven, she took up, not one but two courses simultaneously – law and medicine. Everybody considered her as extraordinary, a “bionic.” Fr. San Luis continued to narrate another true story that what was most touching is the story of a Chinese boy who came from a very poor family in Hong Kong never dreamed that would go far. His parents left him behind to do a housekeeping job in Australia. Gifted with talents for doing stunts and acrobatics, he developed and cashed in on these until he rose to become a famous movie actor multi-millionaire and Asia superstar. That is Jacky Chan, the Kung Fu kid. (Fr. Benitez) (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/ L/20

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No. 59) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle A homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  under CBCI or  Fr. Tony for my website version. (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website- http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020) Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604